Welcoming Governor Paterson

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What did everyone think of New York Governor David Paterson’s inaugural speech? (transcript and video.)

Due to the whole not having a computer thing, I haven’t had the time to read other blog reactions. I did listen to a majority of the speech on the radio (I had somewhere to be) and read the part that I missed. Honestly, I was pretty impressed. He was very personable, charming and most of his jokes were actually funny. I was also kind of surprised that he so clearly rebuked Spitzer:

Of course, I never expected to have the honor of serving as Governor of New York State. But our constitution demands it. This transition today is an historic message to the world that we live among the same values that we profess, and that we are a government of laws and not individuals. Today we can be proud of our democracy.

Granted, he kind of had to say something. And I’m not so sure that I agree with him (I don’t think that “we” live by the values that we profess — I think that Spitzer just acted stupidly enough to destroy any good will towards him that might have saved his sorry ass). But I do appreciate the sentiment and that he is trying to distance himself from Spitzer rather than act as an apologist or simply pretend like the whole thing never happened.

I have to say that I was also very pleasantly surprised that the first words he said with regards to policy and agenda were single mothers, children living in poverty and social justice:

It’s that New York families are more challenges today than they were yesterday. And if we are going to build a viable future for New York, we are going to have to help single mothers who have two jobs. We are going to have to give children better schools and families who don’t have health care some redress.

It’s refreshing to see a NY governor not jump straight to “wasteful spending” (which is a problem, but hardly the biggest, and generally an excuse to cut money from the places that need it most) and, the all-time favorite, high property taxes. When Paterson did address property taxes, he also did it in the context of affordable housing rather than just an easy applause line.

I studied the same issues and had the same experiences, hopes, and frustrations as so many other New Yorkers. I am chagrined at the high cost of education for my family. And the prohibitive price of health care.

I have talked to New Yorkers for decades about the crumbling upstate economy, the crush of property taxes and the lack of affordable housing. These are issues that we will continue to focus and address, but we can do more.

There is also the historic aspect; we’re looking at the first black governor of NY, the third black governor in the U.S., and one of the few governors to have a disability, depending on how you define “disability,” that tends to provoke pity from the well-meaning but clueless and inspire immediate bias.

As I’ve mentioned, I was also once greatly impressed by Governor Spitzer, so I do not entirely trust my immediate impressions. But I do know that Governor Paterson has a great record with regards to social justice, poverty and promoting equal opportunity for racial minorities, women and people with disabilities. In fact, he largely made his career off of these issues. And even if it does turn out that he’s not all he’s cracked up to be, we do know this much: he’d have to pull out all the stops to disappoint us more than the last guy.

From Paterson’s speech:

I was born in the borough of Brooklyn. I was educated on Long Island. Harlem is my home. This is where I learned love for family and appreciation for community.

I have confronted the prejudice of race and challenged the issues of my own disability. I have served in government for over two decades. I stand willing and able to lead this state to a brighter future and a better tomorrow.

Let me reintroduce myself. I am David Paterson and I am the Governor of New York State.

Welcome, Governor Paterson. May you serve us well and with integrity.

0 thoughts on “Welcoming Governor Paterson

  1. Jennifer

    Paterson is currently a fascination from afar for me. I was tremendously impressed that he came out and told everyone about the marital infidelity. He and his wife were very candid about the issue and how they worked through it. Since he handled it so well, I do not take it as a mark against his integrity. (Sorry, I don’t have the link to the story)

    Reply
  2. Cara Post author

    Jennifer, I actually hadn’t heard anything about infidelity. As I said in the Spitzer post, though, it wasn’t the infidelity that bothered me nearly so much as the extreme hypocrisy and the fact that his particular brand of infidelity was almost certain to result in negative political effects. I agree with you about the integrity issue . . . I can’t hold a mistake against the guy that scores of people make, have no effect on his ability to run the government and that he has already made amends for.

    Reply

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